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  • Published: 16 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9781847942883
  • Imprint: Random House Business
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $35.00


How Anthropology Can Explain Business and Life

A revelatory model that explains how we buy, sell, work and live.

'Fun, profound, and bursting with important insights.' Tim Harford

For over a century, anthropologists have immersed themselves in unfamiliar cultures, uncovering the hidden rituals that govern how people act. Now, a new generation of anthropologists are using these methods in a different context - to illuminate the behaviour of consumers and businesses at home.

In Anthro-Vision, Gillian Tett - bestselling author, Financial Times journalist, and anthropology PhD - reveals how anthropology can make sense of people's behaviour, in business and beyond. She outlines how anthropology helps explain consumer habits - revealing the 'webs of meaning' that underpin how we shop, and unpicking the subtle cultural shifts driving the rise of green investment. She explores how anthropology can shed light on the workplace, identifying the hidden tribes within the office, and pinpointing which rituals are binding together a team. And she shows how we can all use anthropology in our own lives, too: helping us make better decisions, navigate risk - even work out what our peers are really thinking.

The result is a wholly new way to make sense of human behaviour. In a short-sighted world, we can all learn to see clearly - using the power of Anthro-Vision.

'In a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, we need an antidote to tunnel vision. That antidote is Anthro-Vision' Niall Ferguson

'A timely call for decision-makers to embrace the full complexity of human life.' Financial Times

  • Published: 16 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9781847942883
  • Imprint: Random House Business
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $35.00

About the author

Gillian Tett

Gillian Tett is the chairman of the editorial board and editor-at-large at the Financial Times. Her work for the FT has taken her around the world – from Brussels to Tokyo to Moscow – and won her numerous awards, including Columnist of the Year at the 2014 British Press Awards. She holds a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

Also by Gillian Tett

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Praise for Anthro-Vision

Will turn your world upside down in the best possible way: fun, profound and bursting with important insights.

Tim Harford, author of HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD ADD UP

A fascinating and compelling demonstration that all of us, especially economists, can benefit from the insights of anthropology: the worm's-eye, not just the bird's-eye, view of how people behave.

Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England and co-author of RADICAL UNCERTAINTY

From a Tajik valley to Silicon valley, Anthro-Vision takes us on an enthralling and deeply insightful journey. Tett shows us how the discipline and tools of anthropology helped her see the world more clearly. Full of rich insights and examples - I couldn't put it down.

David Halpern, CEO, The Behavioural Insights Team and author of INSIDE THE NUDGE UNIT

Drawing on a wide breadth of case studies, Gillian Tett explains that whether you're marketing Kit-Kats in Japan or fighting the spread of COVID-19 in England, you need a more qualitative understanding of who people are and what they care about. Anyone working to rebuild a more equal world will benefit from Tett's well-argued case that to solve twenty-first-century problems, we must expand our fields of vision and fill in old blind spots with new empathy.

Melinda Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and author of THE MOMENT OF LIFT

In a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, we need an antidote to tunnel vision, argues Gillian Tett. That antidote is Anthro-Vision - applying the techniques of anthropology she learned as a young scholar in Cambridge and Tajikistan . . . Admirers of her journalism will love this book, but they will also learn a great deal from it - including how better to understand their own familiar yet strange tribe.

Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford and author of DOOM: THE POLITICS OF CATASTROPHE

Looking at the world like an anthropologist has long given Gillian Tett the edge over the rest of us as a journalist and thinker. With this book she generously shares her secret recipe - and explains why we may all need Anthro-Vision to see a way through some of today's most pressing global challenges.

Stephanie Flanders, Senior Executive Editor for Economics, Bloomberg

Tett provides readers with a new intellectual framework - grounded in her deep understanding of anthropology and her path-breaking journalism - that can fundamentally transform how we approach solving society's most wicked problems, from climate change to pandemics to political polarisation. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Mariana Mazzucato, Professor, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose and author of THE ENTREPRENEURIAL STATE

Absolutely brilliant . . . Very compelling examples.

Daniel Kahneman, author of THINKING, FAST AND SLOW and NOISE

A plea to those of us who may be unfamiliar with Tett's academic discipline to think more like an anthropologist. I think she's right . . . Tett's book may be anthropological, but it also embraces a style of accessible economic writing that, sadly, went out of fashion as the mathematicians and their models took over. Anthro-Vision reminds me of John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society (1958) and The New Industrial State (1967). Some economists may regard this as a criticism. I can think of no higher praise.

The Times

A good read, as one might expect from a Financial Times journalist . . . Many of the cases studies are entertaining and instructive . . . This book is a reminder that culture and context really do matter and cannot be ignored when trying to understand and change organisational behaviour.

Adrian Furnham, Professor of Psychology, UCL, Literary Review

In this superb book, Gillian Tett - Editor-at-Large at the Financial Times - applies the lessons of her doctorate in anthropology to the world of business and, more generally, to social behaviour and trends . . . There are many reasons to read Anthro-Vision, but the most compelling is its liberation of [its] analysis from the often phoney and banal punch-ups of today's culture wars.

Matthew D'Ancona, Tortoise

Trouble follows when insular guilds - bankers, doctors, journalists - fail to take into acconut the viewpoints and folkways of non-elite people . . . [Tett's] conclusions are bright and buoyant.

Wall Street Journal

A really interesting read. Increasingly, businesses are understanding that we can change our attitudes to things - be better at managing people, managing ourselves, and become more profitable - if we do not take a myopic view of culture.

Nihal Arthanayake, BBC Radio 5 Live

Fantastic . . . A wonderful book and I recommend it. It will help you think about the world differently, but it will also help you think about yourself differently. A very entertaining exercise in a kind of social and cultural mindfulness.

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, Royal Society of Arts, RSA Bridges to the Future

Makes a compelling case that "anthro-vision" can help us understand ourselves, our tribes, companies and communities, and to reduce our wilful blindness . . . One of the glories of Anthro-Vision is that it never argues (as many do) that its way of seeing is the only way. It's a timely call for decision-makers to wean themselves off their dependency on big data and embrace the full complexity of human life.

Financial Times

Deliberately listening to other people and taking on their perspective is a rare skill, and a powerful tool . . . For readers, this book offers something more valuable: the opportunity to consider how truly strange we all are.

New Statesman

Wonderful . . . [on] that anthropological skill of looking at things from the outside.

Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy UK and author of ALCHEMY

Full of examples that make you see work and business differently.

The Indicator, NPR

A rattling good read . . . The book has loads of interesting vignettes about the use of anthropology, particularly in business.

Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy, University of Cambridge

Tett's examples of research are vivid, surprising and imaginative; their revelations are informative . . . Tett's book is lots of fun and could even create a few business converts to the anthropological cause.

Times Higher Education

It's hard to argue with her common-sense case that companies should strive to take an outsider's view . . . Packed full of insight, this has the power to change minds.

Publishers Weekly

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book . . . A terrific piece of work.

Thomas Friedman, author of THE WORLD IS FLAT and THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE

A compelling, readable argument for the business value of anthropology.

Strategy + Business